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WhatsApp’s new look leans into the green

Created by Koto, the private messaging app’s new universal design system is inspired by the visual back and forth of communication

It’s been a rocky few months in the world of tech. Post-pandemic boom, share prices dropped sharply for Amazon, Alphabet and Apple this week, after they posted disappointing financial results. Last month also saw Google’s parent company cut 12,000 jobs and Amazon make 18,000 redundancies.

Despite delivering better than expected results, Meta hasn’t been immune from the gloomy overall picture, after it was forced to make 11,000 people redundant late last year.

Following the controversial launch of brand Meta in 2021, and a new look for Instagram last year, Facebook’s parent company has now turned its attention to WhatsApp, the private messaging app it acquired in 2014 for $19 billion.

Having, for the most part, managed to avoid the level of scandal and critique aimed at its corporate family, WhatsApp’s new look appears to be an attempt to set it apart from the rest of the tech pack.

“WhatsApp is not a social media tool. It’s a secure, intimate product designed to give anyone — anywhere in the world — the ability to connect and enact change,” says Koto, the studio behind its new universal design system.

Hot on the heels of Koto’s much-discussed lightning-inspired branding for checkout platform Bolt, the studio’s new look for WhatsApp seeks to deepen the connection between its product experience and marketing.

The design system has been created in collaboration with Meta’s CX, marketing and product design teams. Driven by the notion ‘Forward. Together’, it builds on the messaging app’s reputation as a safe and robust communication tool for its two billion users by exploring the brand’s “emotional landscape”, Koto explains.

The studio developed a wide-ranging colour palette that allows different accents of the brand to be expressed across different touchpoints, from building equity in the WhatsApp green to moments inspired by dark mode settings.

Graphic modules housing messaging and content capture the WhatsApp experience and become the building blocks for a broad range of storytelling, inspired by the visual back and forth of communication.

The design system looks to emphasise what people all over the world love about the app: its “simplicity, flexibility, and universality,” says Koto. “By connecting a global audience, both visually and verbally, this system represents the core of the WhatsApp experience: to effortlessly communicate — regardless of age, location, accessibility, bandwidth, or literacy.”